Thursday, October 30, 2008

Shocking Campaign Signs

Now THIS is funny.

Trunk Or Treat

Last night was Trunk or Treat at Grace. Last year they had it on a weekend so I had to miss it. It was loads of fun! I helped Lori in the kids service by being a puppeteer, a first for me. LaRona gave me just enough instruction to keep me from making a fool of myself...well, let me take that back. She gave me enough rope to hang myself. It's harder than it looks. Anyway, then I passed out candy to kids from the back of my festive-looking Explorer. I enjoyed giving candy to the first-timers, kids who have never been trunk-or-treating. They had this puzzled expression that said, "Why are people giving me all this candy? Is this Heaven?" I even grilled a couple of hotdogs over at Mindy Ritchey's fire pit. A good time was had by all.

I spent quite a bit of time stuffing straw down my pants. Now, I wasn't wearing the pants at the time. Kassady thought it was pretty funny and took a picture. My stuffed man didn't turn out so good as you can see below. I've done better.

The back of the Waggonermobile, strawman and all. I have about one hundred little cuts on my hands from all that straw. I'll use gloves next time.

Trey was Joseph. Lori made his technicolor dreamcoat. He was sufficiently impressed. He got loads (and I mean LOADS) of candy. It will last him, in all seriousness, until next October.

Kassady was Queen Esther. She posed with one of her angelic friends, Taylor. This was the only time they weren't on a sugar high the rest of the evening.

The kids paraded in front of the adults during the midweek service. Thunderous applause greeted them.

Lots of kids, everywhere!

Katie Keep was Jezebel, but fortunately she had a little angel tugging at her trying to turn her in the right direction.

Allen dressed up as, well, himself. It was very realistic. They have the cutest baby girl! She wasn't that dazzled by my camera action. In fact, if babies can glare, I'm pretty sure one was cast my direction.

Lori gave an object lesson involving a pumpkin. The part where the pumpkin innards splashed all over her wasn't planned. The kids liked it, though.

Trey went over to the dark side of special ops, led there by his little green friend Noah.

Lori and I dressed for the occasion. I wore my Bubba teeth. They were a big hit with the 8-year-olds. We thought about dressing up like Abraham and Sarah, with this whole pregnancy and everything. Sarah decided not to.

Traveling Live

***If you get the Liberty Quartet newsletter, just ignore the text and skip to the pictures. I'm using some of the same material...

Liberty's last trip out was special, no doubt about it. We kicked off the tour at Post Falls Nazarene on Thursday. Lonnie and Melanie Capps (along with the rest of their hard workin' crew) did a fantastic job on the concert promotion. We had a phenomenal evening of worship. And, each of us ended up with a copy of Lonnie's cookbook, chock-full of delicious recipes culled from his years in the Marines. Visit out his website to get your own copy.

After a stay in the beautiful Coeur d' Alene Resort we left for Kimberly, British Columbia Friday morning. It's been a while since we've taken a trip featuring so much gorgeous scenery. Since moving to Idaho I have missed the changing of the leaves that I so often took for granted while living back east. There was plenty of leaf-changing to be seen on this trip. I spent good portions of the trip with my nose pressed up the window looking out over God's incredible handiwork. Awesome! And that was just a precursor to the Nazarene Laymen's Retreat up in Kimberly. This had to be one of the most relaxing weekends I've had since joining Liberty. The location coupled with the wonderful people we were with made for a fun three days. Kudos go out to retreat director Carrie Hoogstad and her wonderful committee. They ensured that the retreat came off without a hitch. It was a privilege to be with Pastor Kent Conrad, pastor of Nampa, ID First Nazarene. His challenges were insightful, direct, and inspiring. He had us memorize Psalm 139:23-24: "Search me, O God and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and leave me in the way everlasting." This should the prayer of every person who is continually pursuing holiness. Kent and his wife Kay are some of God's finest and we enjoyed our time together. I am just a little jealous of that big ol' Harley-Davidson that he rides. Kent's one wild hog! I'm more like Dudley.

We left the retreat Sunday morning after the closing service with 300 miles to drive. The destination was Clarkston, WA and the Living Heritage Methodist Church. This long trip was an aberration from our normal Sunday afternoon traveling schedule, but we made it with time to spare. We had a phenomenal concert! And, of course, our friends from Kings Heirs showed up. They even sang a couple of songs with us, much to the crowd's delight. After the concert we went over to Ernie Haverman's house for a mouthwatering meal of shepherd's pie, salad, bread, and rum cake. Of course, Ernie, Bob, Bill, and Pinky had to tell their stories from the road. And they have plenty after 30 years of traveling: the same 4 guys all 30 years.

After that, we hopped on the bus for what we assumed was going to be a fairly short trip home. Those of you who have kept up with my blog for a while know that Royce hates our Garmin GPS (the Garminator) with a passion, while Dan believes that it's almost infallible. There's some enjoyable irony to be found in the fact that it was Royce who followed the GPS on a course over some of the worst terrain ever. As we were heading out of town, I was sitting up in the shotgun seat and saw a sign that said next fuel station 77 miles. I looked at the guage, then at Royce and asked if he thought this was a good idea. "Oh yeah, we can get to LaGrande if we have too", he replied with all the confidence he could muster. I don't know what was going on in that little GPS brain, but we went over one of the craziest mountain passes it could have chosen. I'm not sure what kind of fuel mileage we got, but it couldn't have been that great. By the time we got over the mountain our fuel was almost gone. Royce finally saw a gas station that sold diesel, but when we pulled up it was closed. So, we shut 'er down and spent the night waiting for the station to open. When Dan walked in after fueling up the next morning the clerk said, "You came over that?", pointing in the direction of the mountain pass. When Dan nodded in affirmation she said, "I know a lot of people who won't go over that pass in cars!" Oh well, all's well that ends well. Royce has threatened various acts of violence against the Garminator. I'm pretty sure we're going to get on the bus one weekend and stumble over a crime of passion.

Anyway, here are some pictures:

Royce tried to remember all of the songs that the current version of Liberty Quartet (6.1, I believe) knows. It's somewhere around a hundred or so. The rest of the weekend we kept adding songs to the list. He wrote out the list with a Sharpie and lays it on the floor in front of the monitor. He pulls out a fresh lineup every night. We have no clue what's coming next. Who does he think he is? Hamill?

Doran was trying to practice during soundcheck. He has this weird idea that if he has headphones on and can't hear us, then we can't hear him. We had to get him to shut up so we could set vocals. He's over there humming away...loudly!

Diane went with us on this trip. Unfortunately, her presence did little to alter Doran's hyperactive state of being. She helped Doran lead the worship at the retreat and then sang a song at each of the other concerts.

Dan calling the front desk at the Coeur d'Alene Resort...just because he could. This was the nicest place that we've stayed. At least, since I've been with Liberty. On Friday morning, I had already showered and was doing a little reading with Dan came bursting into the room with his morning cup of coffee (the man has a terrible addiction). He said that they had an awesome pool/sauna/hot tub area downstairs. Well, it sounded good to me so I changed into a Tshirt and swimming trunks and headed off. Dan told me that he had found a shortcut we could take. Well, following Dan is somewhat like trusting the GPS. He headed out a door and I walked right out behind him...into the freezing cold of the outside. It was below 32 degrees outside and by the time it hit me and I reached for the door it had shut and automatically locked. It was one of those doors that doesn't allow you to go back in. So, Dan puts on a confident face and says, "I think it's just around the corner." We end up walking down by the docks, all around the hotel in the frigid weather. People were bundled up in heavy coats, hats, and gloves and they looked at us like we were insane walking around in shorts and T-shirts. We walked for about 8-10 minutes before we got around to the resort's main entrance. Dan's laughing like a hyena and I'm in the introductory stages of hypothermia by the time we get inside. It was one of those moments. I will say that hot tub never felt so good.

Why do people keep requesting this song? The only standing ovation we got all weekend was for our bluegrass number, "The Gospel Plow".

Carrie Hoogstad was the director of the retreat and did a wonderful job of keeping it moving. She even joined Dan and I in a few dance moves on "Bus Driver".

It was a privilege to hang out with Kent and Kay Conrad. Kay is about as spunky a woman as you're going to find anywhere. She cracked me up. I enjoyed the time we spent bouncing ministry ideas/stories off of each other. She has a heart for outreach. It's pretty cool to see and hear what God is doing at Nampa First and to share what He's doing at Grace. All in all, a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rah, rah, Phillies

Way to go Phillies. My wife and in laws are all ecstatic. Dave, being the Philadelphia native that he is, tipped over the coffee table in the living room and streaked through the house in his BVDs since he couldn't join the hoodlums down on Market Street who are celebrating this momentous event by stealing big-screen TVs and setting police cars on fire. Is it just me, though, or has the World Series just been boring the last few years? Yawn...

I guess if the Reds ever get back I'll get excited too.

Cellphone Candids

Here are some indiscriminate pictures taken on my Blackberry phone. The camera is pathetic, the only Blackberry feature I'm not fond of. I happened to remember today that I have a 1gig camera card in my phone, so I downloaded the following. Enjoy!

I think I took this right after I shaved my head for the first time. Lori was away at AYC and I wanted to prep her so she didn't slap me in the airport terminal. She slapped me anyway...

The beautiful women in my life. When we go to a restaurant, it's the chics on one side of the table...

...and dudes on the other side. My main man, Trey.

I must have been having a Daughtry moment during a soundcheck in Oregon.

In case you can't tell, these two together spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E. Taylor (Ritchey) and Trey, otherwise known as TnT.

I just bought the ice cream for the kids. Diane was the one that had to clean Taylor's face.

One of the highlights of Trey's young life: going to his first-ever Boise State football game. The Broncos won, of course. Incidentally, we're now #11 in the BCS standings.

Lori's face when she saw my freshly-shorn head for the first time.

Every time Lori or I have the opportunity to eat at Skyline Chili without the other, we take a picture and text it just to rub it in. This was taken at a Skyline in Louisville, KY where Doran and I introduced Brandon Beene of the Beene Family to just the best restaurant in the world! Lori texted back and said that she hoped I got diarrhea.

The Liberty guys got tickets to the New York Giants-St. Louis Rams game in St. Louis, MO. They were $100 seats and we got them for $10. My first NFL game. Eli Manning was on fire.

A blurred man deep in thought as the alien spaceships hover just outside.

We don't allow our children to have beverages on long road-trips. As a result, these parched little guys often collapse from thirst (before you call the authorities, just kidding...I just couldn't think of a caption).

Trey and his beloved GBS yo-yo (thanks to Jessica Smith). He was in the introductory phase of his "walk-the-dog" demonstration at the time.

Kassady taking a break from her soccer game. It was about 40 degrees at this particular game. She wasn't impressed.

My little princess. Trey hates this picture.

Royce and Dan with some of our fans, Megan and Jayden. Actually, their dad (Jeff) sings with Solid Ground, a Southern Gospel trio from the Sacramento area.

Spreading love and peace around Caldwell...

This was taken on my birthday at a Mexican restaurant somewhere in Klamath Falls, OR. The Spanish version of the Happy Birthday song is a beautiful thing to listen to. Those treats were tasty. Unfortunately, they wouldn't let me keep the sombrero. I tried.

Dan, our own little manga character. Coming soon to a TV station near you!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I'm so sure...

Just one more reason to not take the British royal family seriously...

To quote my friend Matt Barnett, "I'm so sure!"


I'm getting old. I just caught myself yelling "Turn your music down!" to Kassady. Good grief! When did this happen?